Welcome aboard! Our ship is leaving its safe home port embarking on a harmonious cruise which, however, will very soon turn out to be a trip into the abysses of the human soul.
An oil magnate worth millions is engaged in a heated game of chess with a greedy champion, while strange fellow-passengers are strolling on the afterdeck and the mysterious Dr. B. is haunted by the ghosts of his past. Being the asset manager of a renowned firm of solicitors, he fell victim to dictatorial powers trying to elicit his clients' bank secrets from him through many months of solitary confinement and hours of grilling interrogation.
Which is more cruel – physical or mental torture? How much loneliness can a human being stand? Stefan Zweig's novella, which is widely used as compulsory reading material in schools throughout Germany, is a plea for self-determination, creativity, and the arts.
A few printed lines – the banal exercises contained in a chess review book – have helped Dr. B. to survive his ordeal. But his anxious desire of saving himself through intellectual activity fatally misfires when he begins to play chess against himself in his head. Dr. B. becomes more and more desperate, since a chess player who is thrown back on himself will invariably end up being checkmated...
The stage adaptation, which is a co-production of Bühne Cipolla with Metropol Ensemble, bremer shakespeare company and KulturStadtLev FORUM Leverkusen, blends quotations from Stefan Zweig's original text with elements of puppet theatre and live violoncello music to provide an unusual and different theatrical experience.
Gero John and Sebastian Kautz are the performers.
Sebastian Kautz adapted the novella for the stage and is the director, puppeteer, and actor of the show.
Gero John composed the music, plays the violoncello and bandoneon, and is the sound designer of the show as well.
Sebastian Kautz and Melanie Kuhl designed the stage setting.
Melanie Kuhl created the puppets and costumes.
Frank Barufke, Harry Großmann, Sebastian Kautz and Florian Wilke are the light designers.
For interested parties:
Featuring the actor/director Sebastian Kautz and the musician/composer Gero John, The Royal Game is a mobile production conceived for tours to various destinations and auditoriums.
Surtitles are recommended for non-German speaking audiences.
Duration time: 70 min, no intervall.